Quebec legislator arrested for free speech

This video is about a pro-civil liberties protest in Montreal, Quebec.

By Keith Jones:

Quebec legislator arrested as state repression of student strike continues

7 June 2012

Quebec City police arrested 65 people, including Amir Khadir, Québec Solidaire’s lone member of the provincial parliament, Tuesday evening. Their crime? Demonstrating illegally—that is, without police permission.

Tuesday’s arrests are part of an ongoing campaign of state repression directed against the four month-long Quebec student strike and the mass opposition that has erupted against the provincial Liberal government’s Bill 78. Adopted May 18, Bill 78 criminalizes the student strike and places sweeping restrictions on the right to demonstrate over any issue, anywhere in Quebec.

Khadir and all of those arrested with him Tuesday were handcuffed and transported to a police station where they were forced to identify themselves and subjected to police checks. They were given $494 tickets for violating the Highway Code, on the spurious grounds that the protest was interfering with traffic.

Fearful of the mass opposition to Bill 78, police authorities have been highly selective in its application. Frequently they have chosen to charge people arrested for participating in an “illegal assembly” under municipal bylaws and the Highway Code rather than Bill 78. But both the government and police have said that they reserve the right to lay charges under the punitive provisions of Bill 78 at a later date. Quebec’s emergency law makes persons who participate in a demonstration that has not been police-approved liable to criminal prosecution and minimum fines of $1,000. Demonstration organizers face minimum fines of $7,000.

The Liberal government was quick to endorse the Quebec City Police’s arrest of the parliamentarian Khadir, providing further proof of its contempt for democratic rights. Transport Minister Norm Macmillan accused Khadir of seeking publicity by getting himself arrested. “What he wants is what you’re doing now—talking about him.”

In fact, as Khadir explained at a press conference Wednesday, his arrest was anything but planned. While biking home from the National Assembly, he happened upon a casserole (pots and pans) protest and decided to join it. When police declared the peaceful protest illegal, he ignored them, arguing that the right to demonstrate is constitutionally protected.

Khadir said that his arrest and handcuffing had been a humiliation, even if the police had not been abusive to him. “What I deplore,” said Khadir, “is that there were orders [to illegalize the demonstration and make mass arrests] from the police top command who are allowing themselves to serve as a tool of the government.”

3 thoughts on “Quebec legislator arrested for free speech

  1. Pingback: Canadian civil liberties conflict continues | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  2. Pingback: Quebec human rights violations condemned by UN | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  3. Pingback: Quebec pro-civil liberties movement continues | Dear Kitty. Some blog

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.